The Elizabeth Bishop poem

This is a poem about a poem, the kind of thing that Larkin hated (apparently).  I write poems about poems all the time in a compulsive kind of way.  This particular piece is about misreading one line in “One Art”  and relating a little to well to that misreading. It’s also about depression (I’m bipolar)  and the resonance that the hour badly met has for us depressives.

I prefer this to the Rothko (no-one else does)  because it says (more or less) what I want it to say and it does it in a way that’s technically quite pleasing. I tried to give a flavour of the depressive experience but also tried to avoid sounding too mawkish. What it doesn’t do is get fully into the problem of misreading and I probably need to re-visit this.

One Art (Draft 15) for Elizabeth Bishop

A mistake, an error,

I read the line

I did not read the poem

I knew the poem

I just read the line

And my eye skipped the last word

And my brain read another

I read “met” for “spent”

The hour badly met

Seemed better than spent

And I got to thinking

I meet hours badly every day

It’s a given

It’s expected

A flustering blustering thing

All sixes and sevens

A flurry of gestures

The shrug, the blow

Each day I fail to meet the hour

So I would want

As a depressive

The word to be “met”

Yet I’m not her

And she’s a drunk

And the poem is her poem

And it is utterly wonderful

Whereas mine would be

All struggle and strife

The endless whine

Of some wounded beast

So I leave it there

And write this instead

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